Barn owls

Where a development is likely to disturb potential habitats for Barn Owls, demolition and construction can’t commence until the site has been surveyed by a professional ecologist, as their specialist knowledge is critical and shapes how the project can move forward safely, legally, and responsibly. Our team are able to offer expert advice and provide you with the necessary reports in order to get you through each stage of planning.

Barn Owls

Where do Barn Owls live?

Barn owls, as the name suggests, usually choose to nest in derelict barns and outbuildings and will also nest in hollow trees such as mature and veteran oaks. Ideal habitat for a pair of barn owls would comprise several roosting sites with plenty of field, woodland, and watercourse edge habitats for hunting.

Why are Barn Owls protected?

Barn Owls are included in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 which affords them protection against disturbance whilst nesting in addition to the basic level of protection afforded to all wild birds. Specifically, barn owls, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times. In addition, it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb barn owls at, on or near an active nest site with eggs or young or before eggs are laid, or to disturb a barn owl’s dependent young.

If a nesting Barn Owl or its dependent young might be disturbed by something that you are about to do, and you carry on regardless, you will be guilty of a criminal offence. Whether intentional or not.

Although there is little reliable evidence on how barn owl populations have fared over the 20th century, there is a consensus that barn owls must have been more common prior to agricultural mechanisation and the loss of wildlife-rich fields and hedgerows.

Today, Low food availability due to intensive farming; road mortality, especially amongst dispersing juveniles; and the loss of traditional roost/nest sites through conversion or decay, are the main factors affecting barn owls. The latter is of particular concern as barn owls are known to be incredibly site faithful, staying within their home range their entire lives. When traditional roost locations are lost, it can have a knock-on effect leading to the desertion of other nearby sites and a devastating impact on local barn owl populations.

Barn Owls are listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; thereby being offered an additional level of protection in addition to that offered to all other nesting birds.

What happens on a Barn Owl Survey?

A barn owl survey includes an assessment of the structure for its suitability for barn owls and a detailed evaluation of any evidence of barn owl presence; such as droppings, pellets, feathers and eggs. The structure will then be assessed for its importance to barn owls in light of how it is being used as a roost or nest site.

Should a barn owl nest or roost site be required to be disturbed, removed or destroyed as part of a development, appropriate mitigation must be designed and provided.

We work in adherence to nationally-recognised guidelines, to offer barn owl mitigation solutions that ensure barn owls are not negatively affected by any development.

Please refer to our Ecology Survey Calendar for further information on Barn Owl and other protected species surveys.

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Wharton undertook an initial bat survey which identified suitable areas for roosting bats and evidence of bat activity (droppings).



Wharton undertook a preliminary ecological appraisal, bat activity and emergence/return to roost surveys, and completed a shadow Habitat …

Wharton undertook an initial bat survey which identified suitable areas for roosting bats and evidence of bat activity (droppings).

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